About 10 years ago I was working as an instructor with a college program. This was a off campus community based program for people that needed a little more attention then the typical student and got sponsored to be there. When I took over the classes I got the “second chance” group, that was the students that had not completed the classes the first time, as well as some that had been accepted late to replace drop-outs.
I had one student that was quite bright, he had come in from out of town to attend the program. When he was there he was getting straight A’s for the most part and completed everything quite quickly. Yet every couple of weeks he’d head home to visit family and friends, which led to everything falling apart every time. He’d get dragged back into the life style he was trying to escape and instead of coming back Sunday he’d not make it back for another few days after “have a beer with us” ended up as a 3-day bender.
The problem was that he had some very serious crabs in his life.
If you place a crab in a bucket it will escape fairly easily. However if you place a few crabs in a bucket they will grab and pull at any crab that starts getting up and as a group ensure that none of them can escape. This has been called the “Crab Mentality”.
We all have crabs in our lives, people that make it harder for us to reach our goals by excerpting negative peer pressure on us. Trying to eat healthy in a workplace where donuts and fast food are part of the culture is going to be hard, and in many cases teased. Trying to start a exercise program when your spouse isn’t can have a similar effect. When we where young we may have had friends that wanted to stay out and party constantly that caused us problems in school and jobs. If our friends started smoking we where more likely to.
The people around us, even though they care about us, will hold us back at times. It’s not intentional, it’s just the way we are.
It can however be countered, and peer pressure works both ways. If you hang around with a bunch of junk food eaters, you will likely do the same. But if you also hang around with people that eat healthy, you will likely end up doing that more often.
I’ve been fortunate to have worked in different capacity with people of a wide range of lifestyle. And the interesting thing is there is very little difference in potential between the very poor and the ones that have ended up wealthy. It’s mostly just mindset and environment. The people that succeed are the ones that see themselves succeeding and commit to doing so, they spend time with others that are of the same mindset. The people that fail, whether it is in health, career, fitness, or anything else are the ones that listen to the crabs in there life and let their environment stop them.
It’s very simple, most people have a lot of potential. But if they get told they can’t do it they won’t take action as often or with as much belief. If you don’t take action you get poor results. If you get poor results your belief drops. This leads you too less action and less results.
Those that succeed are the ones that kept taking action until something worked. Once it worked it reinforced their positive belief and led them to stronger and more focused action which got better results leading to stronger belief.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and a lot of it has to do with our mindset and the influence those around us are allowed to have on us. People with poor influences start with a lower belief in themselves which starts a cycle. People with stronger influences start with a higher belief which starts a different cycle. Most people though have a belief that is far less then their true potential which was shaped by people telling them they can’t or they belong somewhere else.
In fitness this is why before and after shots are so powerful. People who see others that are where they are get the results they want over and over again will start to believe that it is possible. It’s why one person in a group succeeding can influence the group, it shows the group that it is possible. It’s why when a barrier like the 4-minute mile gets broken once it is almost immediately broken again by others.
Watch out for the crabs in your life that will hold you back, and commit to taking action and spending time listening to the people that have done what you want to do!